With regard to the family history, all of the above disorders can be checked in family members. Particular emphasis should be placed on hypothyroid conditions in parents or siblings. Also, a family history of Tuberculosis suggests the possibility of low thyroid.
The physical examination often reveals the hair to be dry, brittle and thinning. The outer third of the eyebrows is often missing. One often finds swelling under the eyes. The tongue is often thick and swollen. The skin may be rough, dry and flaky and show evidence of acne. The skin may also have a yellowish tinge due to high carotene in it. Nails tend to be brittle and break easily. The thyroid gland may be enlarged. The patient is more often overweight, but may also be underweight. Hands and feet are frequently cold to the touch. Reflexes are either slow or absent. The pulse rate is often slow even though the patient is not a well trained athlete.
Measuring Basal Body Temperature
Instructions for taking basal body temperatures are relatively easy. Use an oral glass thermometer. Shake the thermometer down before going to bed, and leave it on the bedside table within easy reach. Immediately upon awakening, and with as little movement as possible, place the thermometer firmly in the armpit next to the skin, and leave it in place for 10 minutes. Record the readings for three consecutive days. Menstruating women must only take the basal temperature test for thyroid function on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th day of menses(preferably beginning on the 2nd day). Males, pre-pubertal girls, and post-menopausal or non-menstruating women may take basal temperatures any day of the month. Women taking progesterone should not take it the day before and the days that the basal temperatures are taken.
Most of the information on the manifestations of hypothyroidism, its diagnosis, including the technique for measuring and interpreting basal temperatures, and the treatment to be discussed was compiled and described by the late Dr. Broda O. Barnes. He is the author of the book Hypothyroidism: the Unsuspected Illness. His work is disseminated to physicians and the public by the foundation bearing his name, which is located in Trumbull, Connecticut.
How does one interpret the results of the basal body axillary temperature test? If the average temperature is below 97.8 Fahrenheit, then the diagnosis of a low functioning thyroid system is likely. An average temperature between 97.8 and 98.2 is considered normal. An average temperature above 98.2 is considered high and might reflect an infection or a hyperthyroid condition.
Treatment of Hypothyroidism
Once a pattern of hypothyroid symptoms is established and the basal body temperatures are found to be low, the next step is a therapeutic trial of thyroid hormone. Dr. Barnes, his physician followers and many patients have found that the most effective thyroid medication is Armour Desiccated Thyroid Hormone. This medication is derived from the thyroid gland of the pig. It most closely resembles the human thyroid gland. It is dried or desiccated and processed into small tablets. In contrast, most conventional physicians prefer to use the synthetically produced thyroxine or T4. In my experience and the experience of many other physicians using Dr. Barnes' protocol, the synthetic T4 is not as effective as the desiccated thyroid.